CSCL 1909W 001

FRESHMAN SEMINAR

THE POETICS OF NARRATIVE IN FILM AND LITERATURE

 

THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, TWIN CITIES

FALL 2005

 

 


Print Syllabus | Readings | Screenings | Assignments | Schedule | U Matters | Links | Hints


 

CLASS INFO  
Instructor: Hisham Bizri [Mazhar Al-Zo'by will cover Oct. 11-Nov. 8] Course hours: T 9:45-11:25 & TH 9:45-10:35
Voice: (612) 625-8460 Course location: Bell Museum Film Auditorium
Email: hbizri@umn.edu Course url: hishambizri.com/teaching/umn/fall05/poeticsfilm/
Office hours: T&TH 12-1 & by appointment (102 Folwell Hall) CSCL office: 350 Folwell Hall

COURSE DESCRIPTION
There is a long history of adapting novels into film and the reasons vary from the desire to bring literature to the masses and elevate cinema's cultural position, the fulfillment of the Hollywood studio pipeline (screenwriters, script girls, and technicians), and the desire of film auteurs to shed new insights into society through the use of the film medium. These social, industrial, and intellectual needs have shaped much of the debate concerning film adaptations. More importantly however is the philosophical polemic such an endeavor continues to posit. What is poetics? Do we get different meaning from novels than we get from films? Do we perceive each medium differently, which then affects our understanding? Do means of expression therefore express different things or do film and literature express an ideal form (Plato) that transcends their materiality? How does film form embody the thought and feeling of the "concretized form" of the novel?

We will take a comparative approach by looking at the poetics of films and literature from different countries: US, France, Japan, Egypt, France, and Mexico. For example, what is the process in which a Mexican filmmaker, Artur Rupstein, and a Cairene filmmaker, Salah Abu-Seif, translate/transform the same novel by Nagib Mahfouz in film? What are the specific elements in their respective cultures (one Christian, the other Islamic) that influence their decisions to add or subtract from Mahfouz, translate light into shadow or first person into voice over? In this seminar we will study these questions among others by looking at films and their corresponding literatures in the US, Europe, Japan, and the Third World. For example, we will look at Murnau's Faust , Welles' Falstaff , Bresson's The Gentle Woman , and Abu-Seif's The Beginning and the End as well as the version directed by Mexican filmmaker Arturo Rupstein, and read Goethe, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Mahfouz, and selected essays, scripts, and interviews.

The course also examines how film and literature differ across cultures in forging the consciousness of a people. Mahfouz's novels and films attempt to forge a national culture in Egypt that is quite different from its role in the Mexican context. How do notions of Arabness, for instance, develop in contrast to notions of Mexican identity, just before and after the Free Officers revolt in Egypt and the different dictatorships in Mexico? Finally, we will look closely at how the notion of poetics has been defined in the West and its function is creating a view of culture that arises out of differences and conflict: the c ultured vs. the non-cultured, the civilized vs. the barbaric, the progressive vs. the backwards, and the rational vs. the irrational, that could imply that other places outside the West have been lacking in culture which has lead to colonialism, for instance. How does the East on the other hand understand and create culture outside the sphere of colonialism?

COURSE OBJECTIVES
The different readings and viewing are meant to give the student a rigorous understanding of how narrative is built in film and literature and the ensuing poetics. Our goals here would be to:

    1.    Deepen the student's understanding of narrative across media and nation states
    2.   
Expand the student's notion of what narrative is and provide them the tools to understand and enjoy "difficult" narratives
   3.    
Introduce narrative traditions in different cultures allowing the student an opportunity to explore significant cultural, social, and philosophical issues through the poetics of film and literature
    4.   
How do filmmakers and audiences view and interpret film and literature across nations and periods, e.g., Mexico and Egypt, 16 th century England and the Soviet Union, modern France and 19 th century Russia, Imperial Japan and Medieval Japan
    5.   
How have colonial politics impacted upon understandings of culture in the West and the East?

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING

    1.    Mandatory class attendance and participation (20%)
    2.    Readings: between 50-75 pages per week
    3.    Bi-weekly report discussing screened films and readings 1-2 pages (20%)
    4.    In class mid-term exam, 3 essays (25%)
    5.    Take home final paper, 10-12 pages (35%)

REQUIRED READING (available at the U bookstore and reserved at Wilson Library)

RECOMMENDED READING

SCREENINGS (on DVD only)

ASSIGNMENTS (assignments must be completed on time; late assignments are not permitted; topics will be given in class)

    1.    Bi-weekly report discussing screened films and readings, 1-2 pages (20%)
    2.   
In class mid-term exam, 3 essays (25%)
    3.   
Take home final paper, 10-12 pages (35%)

TENTATIVE SCHEDULE

WEEK 1
September 6 & 8

Introduction to the course and concepts

Readings:
Poetics, Aritotle (pp.1-42)

Mimesis, Erich Auerbach (Odysseus's Scar , pp. 3-23)

WEEK 2
September 13 & 15

Readings:
Faust, Goethe (pp. 93-209 -- pages are in German and English so you are reading half the assigned pages)

Anatomy of Criticism, Northrop Frye (Historical Criticism: Theory of Modes,
pp. 33-67)

Screenings:
FAUST (F.W. Murnau, 116 minutes, 1926)

WEEK 3
September 20 & 22

Readings:
Faust, Goethe (pp. 209-421)
Mimesis, Erich Auerbach (Miller the Musician, pp. 434-453)

Screenings:
FAUST (Jan Svankmajer, 1994)

WEEK 4
September 27 & 29

Readings:
Othello, William Shakespeare (pp. 113-204)
Mimesis, Erich Auerbach (The Weary Prince, pp. 312-333)

Interviews with Orson Welles (class handouts)

Screenings:
OTHELLO (Orson Welles, 93 minutes, 1952)

WEEK 5
October 4 & 6

Readings:
Othello, William Shakespeare (pp. 205-332)

Screenings:
FILMING OTHELLO

WEEK 6
October 11 & 13

Readings:
The Beginning and the End, Nagib Mahfouz (pp. 13-123)

Screenings:
THE BEGINNING AND THE END (Salah Abouseif, 130 minutes, 1960) -- part 1

WEEK 7
October 18 & 20

Readings:
The Beginning and the End, Nagib Mahfouz (pp. 124-208)
Cruelty of Memory, Edward Said, Al-Ahram Weekly Online,13 - 19 December 2001, Issue No.564 (http://www.library.cornell.edu/colldev/mideast/2sc1.htm)
The Legacy of Salah Abu Seif, Master of Realism in Egyptian Cinema, Ibrahim Al Aris, Aljadid, Vol. 3, No. 15, February 1997 (http://www.aljadid.com/film/0315aris.html)

Screenings:
THE BEGINNING AND THE END (Salah Abouseif, 130 minutes, 1960) -- part 2
THE BEGINNING AND THE END (Arturo Ripstein, 188 minutes, 1993)
-- part 1

WEEK 8
October 25 & 27

Readings:
The Beginning and the End, Nagib Mahfouz (pp. 209-310)

Screenings:
THE BEGINNING AND THE END (Arturo Ripstein, 188 minutes, 1993) -- part 2

WEEK 9
November 1 & 3

Readings:
The Beginning and the End, Nagib Mahfouz (pp. 311-412)

MID-TERM EXAM (in class)

WEEK 10
November 9 & 10

Readings:
Ordet, Kaj Munk
Selections from Dreyer in Double Reflection (class handouts)

Screenings:
ORDET (Carl Theodore Dreyer , 126 minutes, 1955)

WEEK 11
November 15 & 17

Readings:
Ordet, Kaj Munk

Screenings:
Selections from
ORDET (Carl Theodore Dreyer , 126 minutes, 1955)

WEEK 12
Novermber 22

Readings:
Notes on the Cinematographe, Robert Bresson
Encountering Directors, Charles Thomas Samuels (New York: G.P. Putnam & Sons, 1972) http://www.mastersofcinema.org/bresson/Words/CTSamuels.html

Novermber 24

NO CLASS -- THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY

WEEK 13
November 30 & December 1

Readings:
A Gentle Creature, Fyodor Dostoevsky (pp. 215 - 262)

Screenings:
A GENTLE CREATURE (Robert Bresson, 88 minutes, 1969)

WEEK 14
December 6 & 8

Readings:
Selections from Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment & The Idiot (class handout)

Screenings:
AU HASARD, BALTHAZAR (Robert Bresson, 95 minutes, 1966)

WEEK 15
December 13 & 15

Readings:
TBA

Screenings:
47 RONIN (Kenji Mizoguchi, 241 minutes, 1941) -- Part 1

WEEK 16
December 19

Final paper is due

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UNIVERISTY MATTERS

Grading Policy
According to the college-wide policy determined by the University’s faculty senate http://www1umn.edu/usenate/policies/gradingpolicy.html:

A - achievement that is outstanding relative to the level necessary to meet course requirements.
B - achievement that is significantly above the level necessary to meet course requirements.
C - achievement that meets the course requirements in every respect.
D - achievement that is worthy of credit even though it fails to meet fully the course requirements.
S - achievement that is satisfactory, which is equivalent to a C- or better (achievement required for an S is at the discretion of the instructor but may be no lower than equivalent to a C-.)
F(or N) - Represents failure (or no credit) and signifies that the work was either (1) completed but at a level of achievement that is not worthy of credit or (2) was not completed and there was no agreement between the instructor and the student that the student would be awarded an I (see also I).
I - (Incomplete) Assigned at the discretion of the instructor when, due to extraordinary circumstances, e.g., hospitalization, a student is prevented from completing the work of the course on time. Requires a written agreement between instructor and student.

Plagiarism
Plagiarism, a form of scholastic dishonesty and a disciplinary offense, is described by the Regents as follows: "Scholastic dishonesty means plagiarizing; cheating on assignments or examinations; engaging in unauthorized collaboration on academic work; taking, acquiring, or using test materials without faculty permission; submitting false or incomplete records of academic achievement; acting alone or in cooperation with another to falsify records or to obtain dishonestly grades, honors, awards, or professional endorsement; or altering, forging, or misusing a University academic record; or fabricating or falsifying of data, research procedures, or data analysis: http://www1.umn.edu/regents/policies/academic/StudentConductCode.html. Students with questions regarding the expectations for a specific assignment or exam are encouraged to ask their instructors.

Resources for Student Writers
Student Writing Support
306b Lind Hall and satellite locations varying by semester  (612.625.1893) http://writing.umn.edu
A service offering face-to-face tutoring for all University of Minnesota undergraduate and graduate students by appointment in Lind Hall and walk-in at satellites around campus. Two ESL specialists and one IT specialist are on staff. Links to additional writing resources are available on SWS website.

Student Writing Guide
A guidebook providing student writers with detailed, step-by-step guidance through the writing process and lists numerous writerly resources. Available on the web in pdf at: http://writing.umn.edu/docs/sws/swgpdf.pdf or at the Center for Writing, 207a Lind Hall, (612.626.7579), writing@umn.edu

Online Writing Center
http://www.owc.umn.edu/
A service offering writing consultations via e-mail and online resources for students writers and their instructors. Available for graduate and undergraduate students.

University Libraries
http://www.lib.umn.edu/ The ultimate resource for research, the University library has five major facilities and eleven branch sites with a wealth of reference materials, online resources, books, articles, newspapers, microforms, government documents, maps and more. Librarians are available and happy to help orient students to all aspects of the library system. You can find research assistance at http://tutorial.lib.umn.edu <http://tutorial.lib.umn.edu/> . The library tutorial, Quickstudy, is a self-paced tutorial covering the research process at the University of Minnesota Libraries. It starts with selecting a topic for a paper and ends with citing sources for a bibliography. Hands-on research tutorials with a research librarian are also available. Sign up at http://lib.umn.edu/registration/. These workshops focus on effectively using MNCAT, the library catalogs, the Expanded Academic Index, and more.

Disability Services
180 McNamara (612.626.1333) V/TTY http://disserv.stu.umn.edu/
It is University policy to provide, on a flexible and individualized basis, reasonable accommodations to students who have disabilities that may affect their ability to participate in course activities or to meet course requirements. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact their instructors to discuss their individual needs for accommodation or to contact Disability Services to schedule an appointment with a Specialist.

Non-Native Speakers
337 Nolte Center (612.624.4524)   http://composition.cla.umn.edu/student_web/
Non-Native Speakers (NNS) in need of assistance or guidance with writing concerns can contact Sheryl Holt, the Coordinator for Non-Native Speakers (holtx001@tc.umn.edu) NNS student might also find answers to their writing-related questions on the Composition Program's NNS link: http://composition.cla.umn.edu/student_web/. Student Writing Support also has NNS specialists to help you with your writing: http://writing.umn.edu/

University of Minnesota Counseling Program
109 Eddy Hall (612.624.3323) http://www.ucs.umn.edu/counsel
UCCS Counseling program helps students with their concerns and offers an opportunity to talk with an experienced counselor who can help students select and achieve goals for personal and career development. The center offers three types of counseling: personal counseling, academic counseling and career counseling. The Learning and Academic Skills Center offers class, workshop, and individual assistance aimed at helping students achieve academic goals.